Real Talk with QBV #1: With Chris Gronkowski on his Playing Career, Entrepreneurship and Being a Dad
Updated: Feb 27, 2021
On Wednesday, June 24th, part of the QB Velocity team was able to catch up with Chris Gronkowski. Not only is he a former Fullback in the NFL, but he is also an entrepreneur with his own company "Ice Shaker", and a Father.
Chris was able to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with QB Velocity about the importance of work ethic not only on the field but most importantly in the classroom! That is right athletes, the classroom!
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Did being one of five brothers give you a choice to play sports? What was it like growing up with 5 Brothers?
“Yeah, four brothers and I was the middle of the five, man it was insanity! Everyone kind of one upped it, right. It was all out brawls, all day everyday, we had no furniture in our house, just a couch, no coffee tables, there was nothing else, there was nothing, because everything turned into a weapon, or we were throwing each other through tables and that’s kinda how it went, they just wanted us to go outside, and get the energy out.
My Dad had a rule, if you guys have an issue, go outside and we could fight as much as we want to, we just couldn’t punch each other in the face and we couldn’t kick each other in the balls. That was the two rules, other than that, it was all day, go at it, and if you have a problem, go fix it and then we’re good to go.”
What drew you to Football? Gordie was the only Baseball Player, but why Football?
So originally we grew up playing every sport, my first sport was baseball then hockey. With hockey we loved it because, you could hit and you could also fight, you’re allowed to. You go into the penalty box for a few minutes but you were allowed to fight, and we were aggressive and we were always liking to hit each other.
What was the recruitment process like?
“Mine was not ordinary to say the least. Coming out of Buffalo it was hard. Maybe in New York which is a big state, I think there was 6 or 8 guys that went Division I in the entire state. Compare that to Florida which has a similar population had over 300 guys getting a Division I scholarship. Wasn't heavily recruited and I was mediocre at best, I was a two star maybe three star (recruit) coming out of High School. For me I had some (D-1) AA offers, and I was going Ivy League. University of Penn accepted me to their business school and this was a huge honor to get in that school, it is a lot of people’s dreams but for me I was going to come out of college 200k in debt.
So I was not super super excited about it. I was proud of getting in, but at the last minute I actually received a scholarship from the University of Maryland and it pretty much came down to grades. They were about to go on academic probation. They lost a lot of guys who were coming in because they could not pass the SAT’s or ACT’s and they reached out and said hey we have some open scholarships. If we bring you in are you going to have a 4.0 is basically what they were asking and my brother Dan was there and he was doing well and he had really good grades. So at the end of the day what got me D-1 was good grades. At that time I graded out on their charts as average at best. What really pushed me there was the fact they did not have to worry about me.
Being able to be smart in the classroom leads over to the ability to learn a playbook. You see a lot of guys get drafted and get there you have to learn the playbook because if you don't know you're gone you're worthless to the team and I saw a lot of very very talented players that just could not figure out the playbook because they were kind of handed everything from high school through college.
When you have a quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and but you run the play wrong are you wrong they're out wrong they don't want you in there anymore they immediately lose correct and you're not in the know anymore the quarterbacks have a lot of control especially someone like that they don't trust you they're gonna let the coaches know and they're not gonna throw to you anymore”
What was it like to transfer schools? Maryland to Arizona
“It was interesting, I kind of went into Maryland and it almost felt like they didn’t want me there, they never recruited me. The head coach was kind of old school, he was hard nosed. If I walked by on the hallway, he’d put his head down and look the other way and I would say hey coach and he wouldn’t even look at me. It really boiled down to the fact that my brother came on a visit and he told my Dad and my Brother that I would never play for him and it pretty much came down to the fact that I missed one practice due to injury. Besides that I was the strongest pound for pound person in the running back room.
I was working hard I was doing everything I should. It was kind of a letdown to hear that. So I had to make a tough choice and I decided to transfer. The game plan was that, Rob had every offer in the world at the time. So we wanted to play together because every time we did, we elevated each other to another level. When you have a brother, one that you could really count on and lean on but also brag to and also talk s*** to at the same time. It always brought us to another level and that is why I loved playing with him. We talked to each other, man we gotta go play somewhere together, because when we’re together it is a whole another level. We game planned it out that place ended up being Arizona. Where they said if I could come in and at least contribute on special teams they would let me keep my scholarship and I went there first and Rob came the next semester and sit out a year, but we were able to play together after that.” Being a Fullback, is it tough not getting the praise you deserve?
You have to have the right person, you have to be tough nose guy with leverage. A lot of teams are coming in, they try to use a tight end, a tight end doesn’t have that scheme. Some do a good job